Technology Roadmaps

The IEA developed and regularly updates a series of global, low-carbon energy technology roadmaps. The IEA is leading the process, under international guidance and in close consultation with government and industry. The overall aim is to advance global development and uptake of key technologies to reach a 50% reduction in energy-related CO2 emissions by 2050. The roadmaps identify priority actions for governments, industry, financial partners and civil society that will advance technology development and uptake to achieve international climate change goals.

Technology Roadmap: Solar Thermal Electricity

Published: 15 September 2014

Concentrating solar plants (CSP) generate solar thermal electricity (STE) while producing no greenhouse gas emissions, so it could be a key technology for mitigating climate change. In addition, the flexibility of CSP plants enhances energy security. Unlike solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies, CSP plants use steam turbines, and thus can provide most needed ancillary services.

Moreover, they can store thermal energy for later conversion to electricity. CSP plants can also be equipped with backup from fossil fuels delivering additional heat to the system. When combined with thermal storage capacity of several hours of full-capacity generation, CSP plants can continue to produce electricity even when clouds block the sun, or after sundown or in early morning when power demand steps up.

Technology Roadmap: Solar Photovoltaic Energy

Published: 15 September 2014

Solar energy is widely available throughout the world and can contribute to reduced dependence on energy imports. As it entails no fuel price risk or constraints, it also improves security of supply. Solar power enhances energy diversity and hedges against price volatility of fossil fuels, thus stabilising costs of electricity generation in the long term.

Solar PV entails no greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during operation and does not emit other pollutants (such as oxides of sulphur and nitrogen); additionally, it consumes no or little water. As local air pollution and extensive use of fresh water for cooling of thermal power plants are becoming serious concerns in hot or dry regions, these benefits of solar PV become increasingly important.

Technology Roadmap: Solar Heating and Cooling

Published: 9 July 2012

The solar heating and cooling (SHC) roadmap outlines a pathway for solar energy to supply almost one sixth (16.5 EJ) of the world’s total energy use for both heating and cooling by 2050.  This would save some 800 megatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year; more than the total CO2 emissions in Germany in 2009.

While solar heating and cooling today makes a modest contribution to world energy demand, the roadmap envisages that if concerted action is taken by governments and industry, solar energy could annually produce more than 16% of total final energy use for low temperature heat and nearly 17% for cooling.  Given that global energy demand for heat represents almost half of the world’s final energy use – more than the combined global demand for electricity and transport – solar heat can make a significant contribution in both tackling climate change and strengthening energy security.

Technology Roadmap: Wind Energy

Published: 16 October 2013

The IEA Wind Power Technology Roadmap 2013 Edition recognises the very significant progress made since the first edition was published in 2009. The technology continues to improve rapidly, and costs of generation from land-based wind installations continue to fall. Wind power is now being deployed in countries with good resources without any dedicated financial incentives.

The 2013 Edition targets an increased share (15% to 18%) of global electricity to be provided by wind power in 2050, compared to 12% in the original roadmap of 2009. However, increasing levels of low-cost wind still require predictable, supportive regulatory environments and appropriate market designs. The challenges of integrating higher levels of variable wind power into the grid need to be addressed. For offshore wind, much remains to be done to develop appropriate large-scale systems and to reduce costs.

The 2013 Wind Power Roadmap also provides updated analysis on the barriers that exist for the technology and suggests ways to address them, including legal and regulatory recommendations.

Technology Roadmap: Delivering Sustainable Bioenergy

Published: 27 November 2017

Bioenergy is the main source of renewable energy today. IEA modelling also indicates that modern bioenergy is an essential component of the future low carbon global energy system if global climate change commitments are to be met, playing a particularly important role in helping to decarbonise sectors such as aviation, shipping and long haul road transport.
 
However, the current rate of bioenergy deployment is well below the levels required in low carbon scenarios. Accelerated deployment is urgently needed to ramp up the contribution of sustainable bioenergy across all sectors, notably in the transport sector where consumption is required to triple by 2030.  But bioenergy is a complex and sometimes controversial topic. There is an increasing understanding that only bioenergy that is supplied and used in a sustainable manner has a place in a low carbon energy future. 
 
This Technology Roadmap re-examines the role of bioenergy in light of changes to the energy landscape over the past five years as well as recent experience in bioenergy policy, market development and regulation. It identifies the technical, policy and financial barriers to deployment, and suggests a range of solutions to overcome them.

Technology Roadmap: How2Guide for Bioenergy

Published: 30 January 2017

Bioenergy is the largest source of renewable energy today, providing heat and electricity, as well as transport fuels. Yet, more so than for other low‑carbon energy technologies, the complex and multi‑faceted supply chains of bioenergy projects call for careful consideration of sustainability issues and well-thought-out regulatory frameworks. These will enable continued bioenergy growth, while contributing to reduced GHG emissions and greater energy security while fostering the agricultural sector.

A concerted effort is needed to accelerate the development and deployment of bioenergy technologies globally. National and regional bioenergy roadmaps can play a key role in assisting decision makers identify pathways that are tailored to local resources and priority actions to overcome economic and non‑economic barriers. This How2Guide for Bioenergy was jointly developed by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as a toolbox that can be used for both planning and implementing new bioenergy strategies, or to improve existing ones.

Technology Roadmap: Hydropower

Published: 29 October 2012

Hydropower could double its contribution by 2050, reaching 2,000 GW of global capacity and over 7,000 TWh. This achievement, driven primarily by the quest of clean electricity, could prevent annual emissions of up to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 from fossil-fuel plants. The bulk of this growth would come from large plants in emerging economies and developing countries.

Hydroelectricity’s many advantages include reliability, proven technology, large storage capacity, and very low operating and maintenance costs. Hydropower is highly flexible, a precious asset for electricity network operators, especially given rapid expansion of variable generation from other renewable energy technologies such as wind power and photovoltaics. Many hydropower plants also provide flood control, irrigation, navigation and freshwater supply.

The technology roadmap for Hydropower details action needed from policy makers to allow hydroelectric production to double, and addresses necessary conditions, including resolving environmental issues and gaining public acceptance.

Technology Roadmap: Geothermal Heat and Power

Published: 14 June 2011

The technology roadmap for Geothermal Heat and Power offers a strategic plan to maximise deployment of these energy resources by 2050. It projects that 1,400 TWh of electricity per year could come from geothermal power by 2050, up from 67 TWh at present.

Additionally, geothermal heat (not including ground-source heat pump technology) could contribute 5.8 EJ (1,600 TWh) annually by 2050. In order to reach these targets, policy makers, local authorities and utilities need to be more aware of the variety of geothermal resources available and of their possible applications. This roadmap describes the technological, economic and non-economic barriers facing geothermal deployment, and the steps stakeholders must take to overcome them.

Technology Roadmap: Carbon Capture and Storage in Industrial Applications

Published: 20 September 2011

In sectors such as iron and steel, oil refining, cement and chemicals and petrochemicals, emission can be reduced through efficiency improvements and integration of low carbon energy sources. Crucially, however, carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been identified as the only large-scale mitigation option available that can deliver the additional CO2 emissions reductions that would be necessary to meet the climate goals in 2050.

This roadmap shows that CCS is a key cost-effective option for reducing CO2 emissions in large energy-intensive industries. In fact, much of the promising short-term potential for CCS globally lies not in the power sector but in industrial activities that currently vent highly pure streams of CO2. These activities include hydrogen production for fertilisers or fuel, bioethanol production and natural gas sweetening.

Most studies on the potential application of CCS have focused on the power sector, however, even though all existing operational large-scale demonstrations of CCS are in industrial applications. In the longer-term, half of the global economic deployment for CCS by 2050 is shown to be in industrial applications. In certain sectors CCS is shown to be of particular relevance in developing countries, where it could be a highly cost-competitive emissions abatement option, even in the near term.

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